Going strong for two decades, LA’s own The Generators are still a force to be reckoned with. Whether they be in the studio recording a new album, or their impressive list of shows and tours, these guys never sat still after their formation in 1997! So with 2017 marking the band’s twenty-year anniversary of the band, and both a new full-length (their tenth) and another tour in the pipeline, now is definitely the time to have a chat with one of its founding members and front man, Doug Kane! Get generated!
Hi Doug, thank you for taking the time to do this interview! How are things going at the moment?
Things are going really good right now! Thanks for doing the interview.
We are doing this interview right in the middle of two albums, last year’s “Earn Your Stripes” and an upcoming, brand new album we will get to later. First “Earn Your Stripes”, a compilation that also contained two brand new songs. How did this album got together?
Yes so last year we compiled more or less a history album which we titled "Earn Your Stripes". This album contained new tracks as well as scores of older tracks that had been released over the past 20 years on numerous different albums. We felt it was a good way to highlight some new songs, and also get some of the newer fans turned on to some music that they possibly had not got the chance to hear before. We started out in 1997 so some of the older music has been a bit hard to find as of lately, and we were happy to re-introduce some of those songs again.
It is missing some phases of The Generators’ past though, most likely due to license issues. Despite that there is nearly a decade of your music missing on “Earn Your Stripes”, do you think it represents your band well to newcomers, or to the fans in general?
Yes, thanks for asking that question! There are a lot of songs that we are not allowed to release due to licensing issues. The history of The Generators is a bit of an interesting one, and also maybe a conflicting one. We have been constant for two decades. I can tell you that can seem like a lifetime as we never really stopped touring, nor releasing music, and like many other bands we went through different phases. In the beginning we started out as a 77' Street punk band. In the early days we are very influenced by bands like the Damned, The Clash, Angelic Upstarts and Stiff Little Fingers, and this I believe was our identity and musically speaking what we believed in. Somewhere around five years or so, things started changing. We started noticing there was a bit of violence going on at our shows locally in Los Angeles, and that influenced us start trying to depart away from the street punk scene. Over the next few years we gradually started writing more melodic Southern California melodic punk n roll songs. I can honestly say for me personally going in that direction was not a great decision. It was a really tough time for me, and I do think it revealed some pretty emotional music. I also understand there are a lot of fans out there that really love those albums. It's these two sides of the band that are a bit conflicting, but it's also very typical of many other bands as well.
If licensing wasn’t an issue. What four songs would you have loved to be on the album? Please explain each choice with one sentence.
If licensing was not an issue I probably would've put "Roll Out The Red Carpet", "Here I Go", "Point Of No Return", and maybe "Sound Off The Alarms" on to the "Earn Your Stripes" album because those are pretty well known songs of ours, and we still play them out on tour.
For both the new tracks, “Ton Of Bricks” and title-track “Earn Your Stripes”, you recorded a music video. Does this still help you to reach out to new people, or perhaps increase sales. Or is it mostly just for fun and kicks?
Yeah we recorded 3 videos this year! That was a pretty crazy thing for us to pull off. Recording videos was not a big priority for us for many years, and this year we felt it would be a good idea to make up for lost time, and put some effort into getting some new videos out there for people to watch.
I was talking about albums before, but meanwhile you also released a split 10” with UK’s Crashed Out. Crashed Out’s side was previously released on CD for their 20th anniversary, while your contribution to the split 10” were brand new songs. Was it the intention of these recordings to be used on a split record, or was it something that just happened?
We had been speaking with Crashed Out for a while, as well as a few other bands about releasing a split record. Since Crashed Out were Randale Records label mates it was pretty easy to put together, and I think it also made sense. I'd like to see us do some more split records in the future because it's pretty fun to put them together.
In a past far, far away you fronted The Slugz, while (later on) Mike was in The Choice. This split 10” and the releases on Longshot Music, but mainly Randale Records, both specialized in Oi! and street punk music, it sometimes gives me the feeling you have the urge to go back to your roots. Is this something that will be showcased on the upcoming album, or am I totally off track here?
Once again I think you're asking really relevant questions!! Both Mike Snow and I are huge fans of Oi! Music and have been for 35 years! I was a 16 year old kid in 1983 calling up the Last Resort store in East London and freaking them out. I would send them Doug & The Slugz demo tapes because I wanted to be on the same record label as my favorite band The Last Resort! They loved Doug & The Slugz too, and it's sad I never got them, or another label to release the music, but to answer your question yes Mike and I have been returning to our roots especially over the past five or six years. I can tell you that this is we are comfortable being as a people and as a musicians. Mike and I are Punk Rockers, Skinheads whatever people wanna call us, and we identify with those sub cultures. The new album I really think is gonna get some great response from the Street Punk crowd! It might be one of the best albums we have ever recorded.
How is the process of the album going? Can you tell a bit about what stage you guys are in and what we can expect of it?
We are still in the process of making it and we are really hoping to have it out by early Summer 2017.
Assuming it will be released by Randale Records once again, perhaps in a joint cooperation with another American label, a really good chunk of your releases were released by German labels. Gate To Hell, Outcast Records (shit, I bought a ton of The Generators shirts at their shop in Dortmund), I Used To Fuck People Like You In Prison Records, I Hate People Records… and also European tours are usually German plus a few other countries-tours. Do you consider Germany your home away from home? How did this connection start?
When the first album "Welcome To The End" came out in 1998 on the US label Triple X Records we were flown over to Europe for a small tour and things slowly started clicking for us there, especially Germany! We were getting much such good response we actually blew off touring in the US for many years and kept returning to tour Europe. Well this helped us in Europe but slowly became a big problem for us in the States. We ignored going to a lot of American cities, but in turn found a second home in Germany. Places like Berlin, Hamburg, and Koln mean a lot to our band. We have a long history playing those places as well as many friends that we consider family.
Most of you guys have been making music since the early 80’s, that is for nearly four decades already! You probably still enjoy it, else you wouldn’t bother anymore, but could you imagine a life without making music and playing shows? What would you be doing if things never hit off the way they did after the demise of Schleprock?
Yeah playing music and writing music is in my DNA. All the boys are musical people and would not be dedicating so much of their lives if they were not. For me personally I'm not sure what life would be like without playing music because I've been doing it since I was 15 years old. I guess I would have found something else to interest me. Music has kept me off the street and out of jail. I gave me something to look forward to when so many of my other buddies wound up going to prison, or overdosing on drugs. I always had something to fall back on to. Not to say it's always been a positive thing but it did keep me off the street for many years.
If The Generators aren’t enough, you and Mike also formed the Bedlam Knives a couple of years ago. So far, only one EP, “Here Comes Trouble”, has been released in 2013. Is Bedlam Knives still active as a band, what are you guys up to?
The Bedlam Knives were a side project of ours. In all reality it was never meant to even be a side project. Mike and I only wanted to go and record a few songs and get it released on a 7 inch EP and leave it at that. It wasn't until people started hearing the few songs and then they were asking if we could play some shows. It kind of took on a life of its own, and we were planning to go and record a full length album for Dr. Strange Records. After a year or two it became a bit more complicated and Mike and I came the conclusion it was starting to conflict with our family life. We were already so busy with The Generators it was difficult to commit the time for another band. There has been some talk about revisiting the Bedlam Knives again but not sure when that might happen.
Your first ever Oi! album was the Last Resort’s “Skinhead Anthems” in the early 80’s and many must have followed since then. Do you keep up with all new bands coming out these days, what are some of your favorites out there?
Lots of newer Oi based bands out there now all over the world, and it leaves me wondering if this is just another passing phase, but I do like some of them. Even though some of these bands are not really new they still seem new to me because I've been playing music since the Stone Age! I like Booze & Glory, Grade 2, The Antagonizers ATL, and Lions Law just to name a few.
It's crazy to see so many Skinheads these days hanging out at the shows!! Back in the early 80's in Los Angeles there were just a handful of Oi Skinheads and you really couldn't bring them together in a room because there would be an extreme amount of violence if you did. Skinhead at that time was a youth culture that was based around music, violence and fashion and that order depended on who you were speaking with. Some were into it because they just wanted to fight, and some were into it because of the music, and some because of the fashion. These days to watch a bunch of middle age skins hanging out getting along still seems strange to me!
Alright, that is it Doug! Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions. If there is anything you would like to add, feel free to do so!
Thanks for the interview and thanks for your ongoing support!!